Updated: August 10, 2021 9:48:29 am
Nearly 15 months after he was sworn in as a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has made his first allocation under the MLA Local Area Development Scheme for the beautification and illumination of Shivaji Park.
Thackeray’s decision to allocate his first Local Area Development (LAD) Fund to Shivaji Park — one of the largest open spaces in Mumbai spread over 22.7 acres — speaks to Shiv Sena’s special relationship with the park. The formation of the Shiv Sena was announced at this ground in 1966, and its founder Bal Thackeray’s cremation was held there, too. The park is within walking distance of the Thackeray family’s old residence, and the Sena headquarters Sena Bhavan is located close by.
The party had lost its grip on the area that was once its stronghold after the emergence of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. While the Sena has now regained most of its lost ground, the allocation comes six months ahead of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections due early next year.
The MLA Local Area Development Scheme enables each MLA and MLC to undertake small development works in his or her constituency through the allocated funds of Rs 4 crore per year.
On March 19 this year, Thackeray had written to Mumbai City Collector Rajeev Nivatkar stating that many senior citizens, local residents and sportspersons use the tracks and footpaths along the Shivaji Park area. However, with the area not being well lit, visitors are inconvenienced. Thackeray had subsequently sanctioned Rs 1.25 crore for the illumination through his LAD funds. As per government norms, a legislator can sanction up to Rs 25 lakh for one project that he takes up under LAD scheme, but for this project an exception was made.
Nearly five months after Thackeray’s decision to sanction this money from the LAD funds, the BMC on Monday issued a tender for the project. The tender is for illumination of Pathway from C Ramchandra chowk to Vasant Desai chowk on the Veer Savarkar Marg side. The scope of work will include facade lighting, installation of pattern light bollards, installation of paver lights, spotlight on statues and murals, lights buried in ground, installation of gas torch near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Statue and installation of light poles.
The Samyukta Maharashtra gallery on the footpath opposite Shivaji park will also be beautified. The gallery was a creation of Uddhav Thackeray, and was inaugurated by Bal Thackeray in 2010. There are also many photographs by CM Thackeray. The area around the statue of Meenatai Thackeray, wife of Bal Thackeray, will also be beautified.
Sudhir Naik, an officer on special duty in Thackeray’s office, said this is the first time the CM is sanctioning his legislator fund for any project. The project will be directly supervised by the assistant commissioner of G North Ward, Kiran Dighavkar. Naik, who retired as a deputy commissioner, will also supervise the work.
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